Lean Manufacturing and KAIZEN

This page explains the basic concept to achieve JIT production, and explains the meaning of Lean Manufacturing and KAIZEN that are associated with it. Although Lean is often associated with "eliminating 7 wastes" (which is a part of the philosophy), creating value is the core activity in Lean improvement programmes.

The explanation primarily focusses on 'assembly' production. The philosophy is much wider applicable, including service organisations and administrative departments!

The road towards Just in Time production
1. Awareness, knowing what can be achieved with JIT
2. Value stream mapping and 5S (workplace organisation and standardisation)
3. Line integration
4. One piece flow
5. Pull system, KANBAN ('pull' instead of 'push')
6. Line balancing
7. Standardisation

1. What you can achieve with Lean
The following benchmark figures are available:
Reduction of Work in Progress (WIP) with 70 %
Reduction of throughput time (lead time) with 90 %
Reduction of floor space with 75 %
Additionally, Lean results into significantly improved delivery performance.

2. Value Stream Mapping and 5S
Value stream mapping is a way to map your material and information flow, which faciliatates to determine improvement opportunities.
The 5S program ensures a well organised, efficient and safe workplace.

3. Line integration
This step realises the flow concept, which is very important to spot problems instantly. It also eliminates or reduces intermediate stock.

4. One piece flow
A crucial step to reach your goal: produce on customer demand, the right quantity at the right moment at minimal cost. This also means that change over times are attacked and eliminated. Once this is realised, batch size does not matter anymore, since it does not reduce production efficiency, and therefore a small quantity does not mean extra cost. This already has been achieved in car manufacturing, where batch size now is equal to "one"!

5. Pull systeem (KANBAN)
The next important step: products are not pushed into production anymore (hoping some day they will come out at the other end), but 'pulled' the moment the customer asks for it.

6. Line balancing
The TAKT time (or: 'pulse rate' or 'heartbeat') from the production steps are now balanced.

7. Standardisation
To hold the gains, and to continue on the continuous improvement path.

Lean Manufactung
Lean Manufacturing means to apply this concept, in order to meet your customers demand efficiently and cost effectively.

KAIZEN means 'continuous improvement', in this context most often referred to as 'KAIZEN blitz': a short, intensive in house workshop to realise these principles and to demonstrate their power.